Sunday, April 27, 2008

Sunday

So today, I went to Lotenkyrkan, the Church of Sweden church that I am attending now and the person preaching at the 11:15 service was preaching about China and the church there. The sermon was invigorating and challenging at the same time. He talked about how the church in China puts a tremendous amount of emphasis on prayer, an emphasis that the church in America and the West could really learn from. He related one story of how he was at a Russian Orthodox church for an easter service during the time of the Soviet Union. KGB guards were there watching the service. And while he was waiting in the crowd an elderly peasant lady with a shawl came up to him and told him, "We are praying for you in the West." I was almost moved to tears by that statement, a woman who had so much to pray about for her own well being and her church had enough vision to pray for the rest of the world. So I was challenged to pray more, to put a greater priority on prayer, and secondly to pray for the church around the world. It's so easy to not pray, there are so many pressures from other things. But prayer is so important for edifying people around the world and also transforming our own lives.
But the story is not over, after I was finished I was able to talk with the speaker. I found out that he taught at Patrick Henry College! So we talked a bit about homeschoolers, and he said he was very impressed with them. So I come all the way to Sweden and I am being taught by a Purdue alum in my history class and I am able to listen to a Patrick Henry professor teach at a church service.

April wrapup

So when I got back to Uppsala things seemed to have changed somewhat. The sun shone a little more, the weather was a bit warmer. I started a new class on the Development of the Swedish Welfare State. It is a very interesting class. One of the professors actually graduated from Purdue University and was born in Gary, Indiana. What a coincidence. But both professors are very good and engaging.
During April I made two trips on consecutive weekends. One to Oslo to see relatives and another to Copenhagen with a couple friends from Singapore. Both were fun trips, although the week between them was short. I learned a lot about Singapore on my trip to Copenhagen talking with my two friends. Very much a group oriented society.
The weather has become increasingly warm, now I can keep my window open and go around in a short sleeved shirt. This past week I have had to focus more on studying to catch up and make up for time I won't have. I took a hike down to the lake on Saturday with a friend. The lake was really nice as well.
So that is a short and sweet recap of April. A lot more happened as well, but the business and routine of life is starting to set in.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

My travels

Well, as you can see I haven't posted in a while. Part of the reason is business, part of it is a bit of laziness perhaps, but as you can imagine a lot has happened between now and March 13. The basic big event was traveling to Madrid, Spain, with a little side trip to Paris over Easter weekend. I left on a Friday and came back on a Thursday. I went by myself, but I was visiting a couple of friends from Purdue. This was the first time I had flown Ryanair, the biggest of Europe's countless budget airlines. One of the ways they cut costs is by flying out of small regional airports far away from a major city. So my flight left at 7:15 in the morning, but the airport is about 2 hours away from Uppsala. So I stayed with a friend in Stockholm on Thursday night so I could take a bus from the central terminal. Even so I still had to get up at 3 in the morning. But I made everything, including passing through security (where they took away my shampoo). Then I encountered another unique aspect of flying Ryanair, they don't assign seats. So when they announce a check in time, everyone hurries to the counter as fast as possible, because those who are first get the best seats. So I managed, and I was able to get a window seat on the very crowded aircraft. The seats were vinyl and had no reclining function. The plane seemed rather noisy on takeoff and in the air. But other than that the flight was alright.
On the plane I was considering my 11 hour layover in the airport that was in Beauvis, an hour away from Paris. I knew the airport would be small, and I knew they would have busses to Paris, so I decided to go to Paris, even though I had not thought about it previously.
So I wandered around Paris for a five days and saw the arch de triumph and the Eiffel Tower. That evening I boarded the plane to Madrid and arrived very late, at around 10:00 or so. The hostel I ended up staying in was decent, though hard to find.
I stayed in Madrid for five days. It was very interesting. I had a hard time adjusting to the differences in eating times. I had to eat at McDonalds for two dinners, for which I was roundly chastised by Jennifer. I saw a lot of fascinating places, the royal palace, which had absolutely the most sumptious rooms of any place I have ever seen. It was incredible. I took a day trip to El Escorial, and saw the Valley of the Fallen where Franco had erected a giant cross to himself. I also saw the El Prado museum and the Reina Sofia.
As far as culture I was impressed by the liveliness of Spanish society it definitely had a different feel from Sweden.
I was able to visit the two friends from Purdue and see where they studied. I was surprised by how much grafitti there was, even on the university buildings. But my friends seemed to be enjoying themselves and the experience.
So then it was back to Uppsala, very early Thursday morning.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Another day

I thought I would continue from last post and record some thoughts from today. So much goes into the study abroad experience and I think that it is easy to forget the details. But today, during the break for the lecture I discussed with a German classmate the joys of Latin and reading Cicero and Ovid. Then during lunch my Italian friend and I did a Google Earth exchange. I showed him where I lived and he showed me where he lived in Rome. It was quite cool and we both enjoyed the experience. Google Earth gives us a different perspective on the world, it was the first time my friend had seen Rome on Google Earth. So it was fun working to figure out where his university and house were located. After some studying time I went to Swedish class and learned about adjectives and plural nouns. Then I came home and ate dinner. I went up a couple flights of stairs to discuss with a fellow student about a trip to Stockholm we will be taking Saturday. His corridor seemed like it was a bit more lively than mine, some students were having a movie night in his corridor. Anyway, after my visit I went to ICA, the grocery store a 5 minute walk away from my building to purchase most importantly, coffee, and then other things of lesser importance like soap. Finally I recently got done talking with a 2 hour long conversation with a corridor mate about a variety of subjects from Vikings to European soccer, Champions League. It was interesting to compare European soccer fans with US fans of MLB, NBA, and NFL. We talked about the college sports scene and how US universities spend a lot of money on sports. I learned that soccer and hockey are equally popular in Sweden but Sweden is usually better at hockey.
Anyway another interesting day, but I'd better get to bed as I have a lot of studying to do tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

my life

Today was another great reminder for me of how great it is to have the opportunity to study abroad. I thought I would record everything I did today to give people a look at what I do on Tuesday anyway. Some days are much more uneventful. Anyway today I started by trying to figure out course options for Purdue. And then I met a friend from England for lunch at Snerikes nation to talk about a trip to Stockholm that we are planning to take this Saturday. After the lunch I started to work on registration for classes. Then I met a friend from the Netherlands for coffee at a very nice cafe. By then it was getting around 16.00 so I left for home and made dinner of pan-fried fish and potatos. I finished dinner just in time to rush down to the gospel choir which meets at 18.00 at a church in town. I sang with them for an hour and then i went to a debate club. This club meets every other week from 19.00-20.00. Their debates are always in English. I debated as the person who was going to be there did not show up. The topic was that Swedish cars are superior to American cars. That was a fun topic, I was affirmative (another american was also affirmative). After the debate we talked, I met an American guy from Boston doing a master's degree here. It was interesting to talk to him and compare notes about how we were experiencing Uppsala, learning Swedish, the classes and things like that. (This is one of the reasons I enjoy the debate club so much, I get to meet new people almost every time). After the debate club I came back to Flogsta and got ready to go play basketball at 22.00. I went with a Greek friend from my corridor. The basketball was fun, I had three baskets (which for me is a lot, as my offensive production is not very high). We played for about an hour and a half. Then I came back and ate, and had a nice long conversation with my friend about politics, Turkey, Bush, food, and other random things. Now it is 2:34 am. And I have class tomorrow at 10, and then Swedish at 16.00. Tomorrow will hopefully be another exciting day.
Today represented what I enjoy about this experience, I am meeting people and making friends with people from across the world. I get to talk about interesting subjects with them. And overall, it is just really fascinating, and I am so thankful to be here. I have such good memories of a lot of things. Well off to bed, and another busy day.

Birthday


Well this is Su-Lin and I with the great cake that was made by Michelle for our joint birthday celebration after the international bible study. It was a lot of fun. Ironically enough in swedish class we were saying what day our birthday was, and I was able to say idag (today). I had already been to the pubs and had drank some beer and wine, and cider in previous weeks so I didn't spend any time at the bars. I didn't go to the system bolagget to get carded to buy alchohol. But that was just fine for me, I enjoyed the time of fellowship. We had some people from the swedish bible study over as well. Thank-you for everyone who sent me the birthday wishes on facebook, e-card, and regular card, it was very special.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Min födelsedag

Idag är min födelsedag. Okay, let that be my first attempt at Swedish on my blog. I should make use of this Swedish class sometime. Well I am a little bit I practiced with a friend that I met for lunch. We tried about 10 minutes of primarily Swedish, and then my head was about ready to burst and we switched to english. It was good practice, and I need to do it more often, but it was also very challenging practice. It takes a lot of discipline to try to learn swedish because english is not hard to use here. However, swedish is the main language and I would be able to integrate better into Swedish culture if I knew swedish. But it is very challenging.
Anyway, I said today was my birthday, I haven't done anything special, yet, but in about 30 minutes the Bible study will meet and we will see what they have planned. There is another member who also has her birthday today, so we will have a combined celebration. We are going to sing a couple psalms. I picked out 119B, and the other person will also pick out some psalms. Besides that I am not sure what else is going on.
Since my last post I have attended a birthday party for a friend from Hong Kong, attended a reccedinner at Gothenburgs nation, attended praise and worship night, and another party where I was able to do a little swing dancing. I also went to a couple concerts in the domkyrkan, the cathedral here. It was very cool to hear the church music from Monteverdi and others in the tall building. Both concerts were free and were very well done. Uppsala has a very good classical music scene with concerts and things just about every week.
I am realizing that it is okay to just live in a town, I don't need to travel somewhere every week, because I don't usually do that back at Purdue. I certainly haven't done that, having only gone outside of Uppsala and Stockholm twice, but sometimes I wished I traveled more. But now I realize that moderate traveling is good because then I can actually experience life in Uppsala. Well, those are some things that I have been doing, well, I should probably get ready to go to Bible Study now. Thank-you to everyone for the birthday wishes.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Leading worship

Well last night was an exciting night for me as I was able to lead the singing at the International Bible Study. The two other guys who normally lead the singing were unable to make it to the Study, and so one of them asked me if I wanted to lead the worship. I said okay, but I told him that we would be singing psalms from my psalter, he said "no problem." We had already sang one psalm for a birthday the previous week, but I had never led worship before. Well, everything went great, several people told me that they appreciated singing the psalms. We sang Psalm 46C, 57B, 104A, and 72C. Everyone caught on to the tunes fairly quickly. Anyway, I never really anticipated being able to lead psalm singing in Sweden, but God is good. So that's the latest from here.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Posting and parties

Well, I realize that it has been too long since I last posted to update everyone on what I am doing here. Of course the simple excuse is, I'm a busy exchange student who has a lot of commitments, well I probably could do a better job posting, but there is always some kind of urgent matter that I have to deal with. I will get pictures loaded from my trip to Abisko and Kiruna shortly. I had a good trip, it was expensive but I really enjoyed the scenery and the cross-country skiing. We saw the Northern lights for about 15 minutes or so, not very long, but long enough to get a taste of their beauty and magnificence. We saw the ice hotel near Kiruna, which was quite an amazing site with over thirty rooms decorated with ice. The only major disappointment was not being able to go dogsledding because no one thought to make reservations ahead of time. But it was a beautiful place and I really enjoyed it. We flew up and took the train back. The train, even though it took 18 hours to ride from Abisko to Kiruna, gave me a nice view of the Swedish landscape for about 5 of those hours. It gradually changed from a scene of snow and frozen lakes a rivers to a snowless, iceless landscape.
This past week has been farely normal with me starting a new class on the Vikings, and going to the International Bible Study, playing basketball, and doing a debate club. Tonight I had my second gasque, and international gasque. It was like the reccegasque except for international students. They had some good entertainment like a men's choir and a group of musicians that played swedish folk music on violins. The international students really didn't know the songs and the toasting was not really to protocol, but it was still good. I didn't stay too long afterwards for the after party as there were a lot of Swedish students who were coming to the pub as well and so it was very crowded and loud, and so I decided to walk home. I have concluded the Swedes are just as likely to get drunk as Americans or Australians, and when they get drunk they are no longer reserved or quiet. Not all Swedes are like that, just as not all Americans or Australians want to get drunk, but it seems like a majority don't mind.
Well that is all for now, like i said I hope to post more frequently in the near future.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Of Formula 1 racing and sermons

Well, I decided to check out a new church last week, or this week, depending on which week system you use (the Swedes put Sunday with Saturday and Monday starts the new week, not a big difference really, but interesting). The service was definitely like none other I had ever quite experienced. I noticed the first difference when I walked in and saw tires randomly lying around. When I walked in I noticed a tire set up in front of the podium, hmmm this is interesting I thought. Well one of the pastors (I presume) got up and gave the announcements and pre-sermon worship, in the middle of her talk, they showed a clip from a formula 1 race, a driver making a pit stop. I thought it was pretty random. Then the other pastor came up and began the sermon. And it quickly became clear that the sermon was constructed around the illustration of a formula 1 pitstop and other things about formula 1 cars. They showed a variety of pics of formula 1 cars and he talked about the pit crews working together and the gas line being thick and other things. Some people thought the sermon was good, but the main point was lost on me, perhaps because I think the translator was struggling a bit with the racing terminology. After that they had a singing time that lasted about 45 minutes or so, singing the regular variety of praise songs. The fika afterwards (a great Swedish tradition) was good, and I went to dinner with some other students at a Thai restaurant. That was a good time, a bit expensive, but it worked. That evening (after listening to a substantive sermon by Pastor Long) I attended a Chinese New Year dinner hosted by a friend from the international bible study (who is from Singapore). I had a lot of fun there, met some new people and ate great chinese soup. They talked about the different Chinese new year traditions like tossing a salad and giving oranges to the elderly etc. The food was outstanding. After the party I went to a meeting with my corridor where we established a schedule for cleaning, and afterward made the kitchen look much cleaner. It was also the first time we actually had seven people at the kitchen table all at once.

This week I started my Basic Swedish course. The teacher is great, and the class should be helpful but not too much work. We started with asking a variety of questions like where are you from and what are you studying etc. I think it will be a big help for me. I am not sure whether or not I will be able to gain fluency in Swedish, but I will definitely get better.

Well those were a couple of the main events of this week, I am working hard to get a paper done early because we will be returning after the deadline has past. I have a gasque for freshman on Saturday hosted by the Goteborg nation, so that will be interesting to see.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Of Ferries, Estonians, and Exchange students



Well, I have been keeping myself fairly busy, which is why I have not been able to post for over a week. It seems like every day I have some kind of dinner or event that I am going to. But I am enjoying it, because I am able to meet new people and feel like I am involved in things. I have met several new people in my Swedish history class, including a guy from England and a guy from Turkey. On Thursday of last week we went to a place called Gamla Uppsala where there are mounds from Viking times, at one point there were over 200 mounds in one place. Below is a picture of one of the mounds. The museum had a variety of interesting artifacts that they had pulled from the tomb as well.









There was also an old church right next to the burial mound area. It actually had been one of the main churches in Uppsala, built around the 12th century or so. But a fire destroyed much of the church. However the part that remains is preserved remarkably well and appeared to be only slightly changed from the 12th century. It was very interesting to go in. Below is a picture of the church








Last Wednesday there was a welcoming reception for the exchange students in the University Main building, which is a very nice building. We were able to go inside a big auditorium that was nicely decorated, and then we went to a reception room where there was a lot of paintings and things and we listened to a welcoming speech given by the Vice Chancellor. The reception was okay, but the most exciting part was what happened afterwards.






As I was going out of the building, I met the English guy who was with some students from Singapore. I started walking with them, and found out they were going to eat at this place called Pinnochio's Pizza. I also heard them talking about a trip they were going to take to Lapland and a place called Abisko mountain station. They were going to Pinnochio's Pizza to discuss what they were going to do for the trip. So I decided to go, and so within half an hour I had signed up for a trip to Lapland from February 21-25. It was quite interesting the way things worked out, but that is what I enjoy so much about being an international student. I have an immediate connection with every other international student. So the Lapland trip will be my next big adventure, and I am hoping to visit the Ice Hotel, go dogsledding, and do a variety of other things. It will be somewhat expensive, but I think that it will be worth it.





Well, now on to my trip to Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. It is a small town of approximately 400,000 people. But the old town had a nice medieval feel to it. So on Friday I and three other students took a train to Stockholm where we went on the ferry. There were a lot of other exchange students on the ferry as well. The ferry was a cruise ferry, so it had a pub, and a casino/stage, and a disco, and a restaurant where they charged ridiculous prices for food, and finally, a tax free store. In face a lot of people take this ferry because they are able to buy beer for significantly cheaper prices than in Sweden. Some people were a bit drunk, but it wasn't too bad. Fortunately my roommates were quiet.







The picture above shows the ferry I was on. The town was very nice. I wandered around with five other exchange students. The old town had a nice medieval feel to it. There were a variety of interesting shops and museums. Part of the old wall had been preserved. All the streets were cobblestone, some were narrow, so it was nice to walk around some.




The prices were also cheap for the most part, the estonian currency was 10 to 1 against the American dollar, which made conversion nice and simple. We also went to the city museum and learned some about 20th century Estonian history and how hard it was for the people being occupied by the Germans and then the Soviets from a guy who was born in 1932. It was very interesting to hear him describe the events, the deportations and the propaganda. I was moved by the courage of the people of this small country. On the ferry ride back we ran into some rough waves and rough weather. Some people got seasick, but I actually enjoyed the storm as it reminded me of God's power (and of course being from Indiana, I never really experience storms on seas). The ship was rocking back and forth noticably, I went out on deck several times and enjoyed watching the sea and the waves. All in all it was exciting. Below is a video I took while I was standing on the exterior deck.




video


This week has seemed to just fly by with a variety of events. Sunday I watched the Super Bowl at this bar in Uppsala that stayed open. The game started at 12:45 in Sweden. It gave new meaning for me to hear the sports announcers say that they were broadcasting the game around the world. It was a very exciting game to watch, it didn't seem like there were many Americans, mostly people from around the world, but they were into the game. I left at the end of the third quarter because I had come back from Estonia that day and was tired and I knew I had class the next day at 9:00, perhaps I should have stayed, but oh well. I left around 2:45 in the morning. But I was definitely very happy when I turned on my computer the next morning and found out the Giants won. It was the next best thing to the Colts winning the Super Bowl.


On Monday I had class and learned about Gustav Vassa who formed the Swedish state, and about the period from 1520-1710 when Sweden went to war with just about everybody (the only time they went to war with just about everybody). I also stopped by an exhibition in the Carolina Redviva library where they have a lot of old books, the highlight of which is the Silver Bible, from the 6th century or so. Most of these manuscripts were stolen from German castles in the 17th century, when Sweden was a great military power. Next week I have to come up with a paper topic for a comparison between Sweden and the U.S. Monday night was the International Bible Study where we studied 2 Corinthians. Tuesday was another busy day as I had a session on how to use the Uppsala Library catalogue, then I sang in the gospel choir for an hour, then went to Goteborg nation to make Semla as Tuesday is known as Fat Tuesday or Semla day, (they were very good). Finally I went to the Norrlands nation Sports Club and played basketball. I have officially joined the Sports Club to play basketball and they meet every Tuesday night from 10-11. Today I met a guy for lunch, studied some LSAT prep, and went to a dinner sponsored by this organisation called CAMBIUS. The dinner was great, and I sang the Star Spangled Banner for everyone there, as the people from the different countries were singing their national anthems. I forgot some of the words, I can't believe I did that, but I didn't pause, so I don't think anyone noticed. So that is a bit of my life, keeping very busy and constantly meeting new people, which I am enjoying very much. Well, time for bed, and then a new day.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Stockholm

Well I had an adventurous day in Stockholm. We arrived at the train station at caught the train leaving at around 9:30. We arrived, and after a quick breakfast at McDonalds, I proceeded to the Greek embassy (eventually, after a lot of guessing and trying to find the tourist office). One of the members of our group will hopefully go to Athens in March and he needed to sort out some things. After the embassy trip, we walked down to the Vasa musuem. On the way I saw a Ferrari dealership and I looked at some of the ridiculously expensive cars they have there. They were cool to see at least. The Vasa museum holds a very large ship built in 1627 Gustavus Adolphus as a flagship in a war against Poland. The ship sank during its maiden voyage in Stockholm harbor because of a design flaw. In the 50's they were able to lift it up, which was quite a challenging process. They have done an incredible job preserving the ship and now it is in a fully enclosed musuem. The ship is very large and very ornately decorated. I have some more pictures on Picasa, but I think this gives you a good idea of the size of the ship. I enjoyed the museum. Then we took a ferry to another part of Stockholm, ate a bit, and then decided to head back to the train station.

Unfortunately our sense of direction failed us, we had landed on an island in close to land on the south and the north. We needed to go north, but we ended up heading south (thinking we were going north) When we arrived on the mainland we turned left (which is what we should have done had we turned north) and we wandered around for the next 45 minutes trying to figure out where we were (because of course, we could not find the streets on the map). Well we finally figured it out, much to our chagrin, but we survived. I have a new respect for the racers on the Amazing Race because it is so easy to get turned around. I think I would not fare very well. Stockholm as a whole was okay, but not too interesting, I think it will be better in the summer.
I also went to a meeting of the International Bible Study tonight, as they normally meet on Monday. I met a couple of other new people. But I am so thankful that I have found this study, because the leader and the people attending the study are all Christians who believe the Bible is true and that the gospel is true. I was very worried coming to Sweden that I wouldn't find any other Christians, but God has answered my prayers. It is also interesting to hear some of the challenges that Christians face here in Sweden. Well that is all for now, on Friday I will be going Estonia on a ferry, so we'll see how that goes.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Getting to know Swedes

Since I last posted, I have been getting to know some Swedes a little better. I think it just takes some time for them to warm up or something like that. I have gotten to know a Greek guy named Antony pretty well, he is definitely the friendliest. Also the nation I joined, Goteborg, has had a couple of events, like a little pub crawl last night in which I have been able to meet some more Swedes. (By the way, I was able to go on the pub crawl without drinking a drop of beer, I just get some water, it's free, or coffee and enjoy talking, they are actually really fun to go on, because everyone is friendly and likes to talk. I have noticed that Swedes are more open to talking about politics and things like that, the conversations naturally flow into discussions around political issues, which I enjoy, because I like talking about politics. So I am glad that I am able to get to know other Swedes a little better. The other thing I like about the pubs here is they are places to go and talk or play board games, you don't have to get drunk. I think Swedes are into board games, because at one of the pubs I saw some people at a table playing Settlers of Catan.

On Wednesday I had my first class, Swedish history, and it is going to be pretty easy, just read 1 600 page book and write an 8 page paper in 4 weeks. So I have a lot of free time, hopefully I will be able to use some of that in studying my LSAT prep book and traveling. There is a group of four other people and I who will be going to Stockholm on Monday. I am looking forward to that, and I hope that it will be the start of more travels. There is so much to see, and so little time to see it.

Even though my corridor is a bit quiet, at least they don't blare music like a couple of the other corridors in my building. Last night at about 2:20 in the morning, the guy in the room below me was blaring his stereo really loud, (of course it had the exact same electric guitar line). I was able to get to sleep because I had earplugs, but I was thinking how frustrated I would be if I actually lived in that corridor. So after that experience, I was thankful that I am in a more peaceful corridor, even if most people hide in their rooms. Well, that is all, today is Australia Day, so all the Australians are having a big party (I think they could get a degree in partying), so I might go check it out, or I might not.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

pictures!

I just want everyone to know that I have posted pictures on Picasa and they can be viewed at http://picasaweb.google.com/doerr.adam.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

New Twists and Turns

Today was an interesting day for a number of reasons. First of all, I bought a bike, which is an important thing to have in Uppsala. The bike shop was a bit out of the way, but it was worth the trip. The bike is a single speed cruiser style bike, old, but sturdy and in relatively good condition. It came with a light that is powered by the turning of the wheel, which is also good, because the police here can give a fine of up to 1500 SEK for not having a light. I also purchased a coffeemaker today, because my corridor does not have one, and now I can make the Starbucks coffee that I brought with me from home. I joined a nation, one of Uppsala's 13 nations. It is called the Goteborg nation, a small nation with only 600 members or so (nations average around 3000). But I wanted a small nation that didn't have such a large proportion of international students. We'll see how this one turns out. Hopefully I will be able to get to know other Swedes better through the nation. Finally, I went to a meeting of a gospel choir run by the chaplain's office. It is open to anyone, and they sing negro spiritual style. So it was kind of interesting to watch all these Swedes swinging and singing a style that has no roots in their past. They conducted the whole thing in Swedish, but I was able to follow along via hand motions, and doing what everyone else did. I think I'm the only international student there, but the other guys (it was mostly girls, but there were about 10 guys) were friendly, so I'll think I'll keep going to practice Swedish, and to meet some Swedes. I had never really planned on doing something like joining a gospel song, but I think it will be a good experience, I think that it is good to do these things to get connected with other Swedes. Well, tomorrow is my first day of class, so it will be another interesting day, and we'll see how things go, but I am becoming more and more encouraged as time progresses.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Getting connected to Christians

Things have happened quickly, and I am slowly starting to feel like this is my home as I get to know more and more people and get accustomed to different ways of doing things. On Sunday I was able to attend a Baptist church that had a Swedish service, but had headphones through which a translator translated what the preacher was saying. The preacher said he was an ecumenical preacher, but he did have some interesting things to say about the church being a good influence in the world, an interesting contrast. The service was fairly traditional, with a guitar, piano, and organ being the sole instruments used. Tonight I went to an international student Bible Study, led by a priest from the Church of Sweden. He actually grew up in California and decided to come to Sweden based on a call of God (as he put it). Most of the other students are graduate students, but they were all friendly and it at least puts me in contact with some other Christians. The priest had actually just come from the United States from a Young Life conference and so he was talking about his experience there. I think that I will have plenty of doctrinal differences with the leader, but I think that they uphold the gospel and will be a good group to meet with.


The other big thing I did today was to go to a reception where I learned more about the thirteen student nations at Uppsala. The student nations have a deep history at Uppsala University, most of them are at least 300 years old. They represent a geographical region of Sweden and range in size from 600 members to 7000 members. Each nation has a pub, a cafe in a building and provides activities from sports to choirs. There are some things that members of one nation can do with a member of another nation, but it is important to choose a nation that fits one's style. I have to sign up at a particular nation tomorrow. I think I have one in mind. We'll see how things go. So I am becoming more encouraged as I stay for a longer time. My room and building are starting to feel a little like home. Well I probably should go to bed, and get up for a busy day tomorrow.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

First Impressions

First impressions are interesting, they can be deceiving or misleading. We will see how my first impressions of Sweden turn out, but they were certainly mixed with highs and lows mixed in. I arrived in Stockholm, Sweden in good time. The other student I was traveling with and I got our bags just fine and then we met up with some other students and tried to find the bus. This was quite an adventure as we ended up going up and down in an elevator about three times before we finally found it. The day was cloudy, rainy, and cold. But we were able to catch the bus in good time. The scenery along the way reminded me a lot of Indiana. Bare trees, flat countryside and so on. We arrived in Uppsala at the bus station and realized that we had to walk in the rain to a place at least several blocks away (we were not exactly sure where this place was). After approximately half an hour, trudging along with all our luggage in very wet conditions we finally arrived at the place, one of Uppsala's student nations. There we were greeted and were able to get a ride to our place of residence. When I finally arrived at my corridor (after finally figuring out how to use the elevator) I found my room. I wasn't sure what to think of it at first. But I think I am beginning to like it. It is a single bedroom with a personal bathroom. There are eleven other students in the corridor, two of them are exchange students and the rest are Swedish. It is a quiet corridor (so far anyway), which will be nice when the studying starts. Perhaps the hardest part was having no internet access in my room for a while, and having no cell phone, which meant I had no real form of communication. I finally found computers at a public library that allowed me to access the internet for 15 minutes. The Swedish bureacracy is also a bit strange, as the offices are sometimes open for only 3 or 4 hours every other day. They also seem slower than the U.S. But on the positive side, I have met a lot of interesting people from places like Korea, the Netherlands, and Germany. All the other exchange students have been really friendly. The International Committee here has also organized some good activities to help the students get to know each other and the services provided a little better. Well that's all for now. I should be able to get some pictures up shortly.